ephesiansI am a soldier, a prayer warrior, in the army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, Prayer, and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, trained by experience, tried by adversity, and tested by fire.
I am enlisted in His army for eternity and I will not turn back.
I will not get out, sell out, or be talked out.
I will be faithful, capable, and dependable.
When I am called to action, I will stand at attention, act with precision, and serve with devotion.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior. I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered, petted, primed up, pumped up, picked up, or pepped up.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior.
No one has to call me, remind me, write me, visit me, entice me, or lure me.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior. I am not a wimp.
I will stand my post. Saluting my King, obeying His orders, praising His name, and building His Kingdom.
I am a soldier, a prayer warrior.
No one has to send me flowers, gifts, food, cards, candy, or handouts.
I do not need to be cuddled, cradled, coddled, cared for, or catered to. I am committed.
I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me back.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot suffer enough to cause me to quit.
When Jesus called me into His army, I had nothing.
If I leave the field of battle with nothing then I still come out ahead.
My God shall supply all of my needs. I shall win because my Savior is the Victor. I am His soldier.

This morning the war rages on and casualties are mounting. Before you are led to believe that I am speaking about the war that is taking place in Afghanistan let me steer you in the right direction. There is a war taking place. A war far greater than the war against terrorism. A mission far more crucial than any undertaken by any military today. The war that I want to speak about this morning involves every single person on the face of the planet. The war is being waged against men, women, boys, and girls of every race, every socio-economic background, the educated and uneducated, those who are able bodied, and those who are confined to nursing homes, wheel chairs, or hospital beds. The enemy is not an Iranian, Communist, Terrorist, or a member of the Taliban, but the enemy is the sin within. The war that American fighting forces are waging while we are sitting securely in the sanctuary is a very real war, but the fact of the matter is that even with all of the devastation that the terrorists have unleashed upon the world, far more lives are being devastated by sin. I don’t say that with insensitivity or with a callous heart. I know that there have been tens of thousands of lives impacted by car bombs, IEDs, and attacks like the one on the US Consulate compound in Benghazi.

Many are succumbing to Satan’s blistering bombshells, passionate pursuits, and agonizing attacks. Satan’s options of attack on your life and mine are limitless. The scope of his mission is far reaching. His ultimate aim is the complete annihilation of every life on the planet. Satan’s success can be measured by merely looking around and seeing the devastation.

Homes are in ruins. Hearts are in shambles. Heads are fuzzy with trying to make sense of it all. Lives full of promise and potential are lying lifeless. Bright young minds capable of becoming our nation’s scientists, leaders, teachers, and great thinkers are being turned into mush with drugs and alcohol. Boys and girls are changing their plans for the future so that they can change their baby’s diapers. Little Cinderella and little Prince Charming are finding their souls scared and their hearts shattered because of promiscuous “hook ups,” one night stands, and thoughtless sex that will remain in their thoughts for years to come. Weddings that overflowed with hopes and dreams for the future have turned into webs of hatred and bitterness. Fathers and mothers who have been given the gift of showering their children with grace and teaching them about the glory of God turn their passions to less honorable pursuits. Arrogant attitudes rot the soul of those who look upon those of other races as inferior. Those who say they serve the One who is known as “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” live wayward lives full of lies and deception. Rage ruins a tender spirit. Bitterness is poison that kills more than relationships. Purity is forgotten as pleasure pulsates in the minds of the masses. Integrity is compromised for the rush of the moment. Honor is neglected as dollar signs tighten their grip. Neighborhoods like ours, full of children capable of so much, years later are full of adults who have done so little because of sin’s devastating success. Churches all over this city are full of so many adults who have so much to offer, and yet they refuse to get involved because they are preoccupied only with what they can get.

What do we do? How do you wage war against an unseen enemy? How do you set a plan of attack when so many do not even believe the Enemy exists or that God has more in store for those who will seek Him? Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4,

4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV)

The Enemy who poses the greatest threat to you and me is Satan and his greatest weapon is the sin that lives within each and every one of us. Satan’s schemes are smooth and slick. They are sly and sensuous. They are alluring and attractive. They are deadly and devastating. The bad news is that we can see sin’s powerful effects all around us and left to our own devices and strength-–we are helpless. The reason we are helpless is because we were born sinners, with a sin nature. The Bible teaches us that because of our inheritance, the sin nature that was passed down from our parents, we have a natural inclination towards sin. Paul wrote in Galatians about our sin nature. He also contrasted the lives of those who live according to their sin nature with those walk in the Spirit and have crucified the sin nature. Read along with me in Galatians 5:17-25

17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:17-25 NIV)

You do not have to be taught how to fly into a fit of rage. I have young grandchildren that have been blessed with a mom and dad that love them and are teaching them all kinds of great things, but Dan and Rachel aren’t teaching Kellen and Macy how to have “selfish ambition.” We do not have to enter an institution of higher learning to master the art of impure thoughts. These come naturally my friend because of our sin nature. These things will destroy our lives and yet we don’t have the power to overcome them. The good news is that God has not left us helpless as He calls us to battle the Enemy. He has given us every weapon that we need to wage a successful frontal attack on Satan’s ploys, plots, and plans. I want to spend our time this morning taking a look at God’s provision for you and me. This lesson is of great importance for all of us because we know the consequences of giving in to a life lived apart from God, a life of sin. Turn with me to Ephesians 6 as we look at our Scripture for today.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV)

I want you to notice something about what Paul has written to us who are on the battlefield. Paul says in verse 11 that we must “put on the full armor of God.” You need to notice something very important. Paul doesn’t say that because you go to church, have accepted Christ into your heart, or listen to Christian radio stations that you are protected against the war being waged against you. He says, “put on the full armor of God.” We are in a battle. You don’t even have to be conscious of it, but you are in a battle. You do have to make a conscious decision every day to arm yourself with the armor of God. You can’t go to battle without your armor and expect to survive. We need the full protection of God’s armor to be able to wage war against the Enemy. Notice the items listed by Paul:

• The belt of truth.
• The breastplate of righteousness.
• Your feet must be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
• The shield of faith is needed to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
• The helmet of salvation.
• The sword of the Spirit.
• Prayer for all occasions.
• You must be always on the alert and always praying for all of the saints.

You and I must realize that apart from God’s provision we are helpless, defenseless, and certain of sure defeat. I want you to notice that all of the items in the list are defensive except for two items: the sword of the Spirit and prayer. God is so good in His provision for our lives. Before we take a look at the two offensive weapons God has provided for us, I want us to take a look at the first five provisions of God. If you will read through each of these you will begin to notice a common thread that binds them all together. The common thread is Jesus our Savior. He is our truth. He is our righteousness. He is the one who is our peace. The Bible says, “Thou O Lord, art a shield about me.” (Psalm 3) He is our shield. And last of all, Jesus alone is our salvation. Paul states the same truth in Romans 13, when he writes,

14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:14 NIV)

Every day we must clothe ourselves, wrap ourselves, arm ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. How do you do that? Great question. We can do that by crying out every morning to our Savior and confessing to Him that we need Him just to make it through the day. We must confess that we will surely be destroyed if we leave our homes in our own strength. We must ask Him to take control of our minds, bodies, and actions so that He lives through us.

We are in a war, but we do not engage in battle like the forces of the world. There is an important distinction to be made about how the world wages war and how God has instructed us, the Body of Christ, to wage war against our enemies. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians,

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)

Paul makes it very clear that we don’t wage war as the world does. We do not use bombs and drones, psychological warfare tactics, and manipulation. We do not stir rage and anger. We do not seek revenge when we are mistreated and maligned. We do not seek the annihilation of our enemies, we seek their salvation. Our behavior on the field of battle is altogether different than anything known by the world.

Now, before we go I want to take a look at the last two weapons the Lord has provided for us. First of all, we see that God has provided for us the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” What a wonderful weapon for you and me to use as we are being attacked. If you will read God’s Word then you will see that this is the same weapon Jesus used when He was being attacked by Satan in the wilderness. As Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus’ response to Satan was not logic or reason, it was the Word of God. Jesus answered Satan’s temptations with these three words, “It is written…” You and I should adopt the same response to the attacks of Satan that come into our lives. We must fight temptation not by reasoning or rationalizing, not by looking logically at what seeks to destroy us, but by utilizing God’s Word.

Last of all, we are given the weapon of prayer. We are told to “pray in the Spirit.” This is so important for you and me as oftentimes we don’t know what we ought to pray for in many situations we face in life. Have no fear, God has provided His Spirit to intercede for us. In Romans, Paul wrote,

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26 NIV)

Isn’t God good! When you don’t know how to pray, when you don’t know what you ought to pray – God knows and He has provided His Spirit to pray for you and me. What an awesome God we serve!

There is a battle going on this morning. Are you aware of it? Do you hear the mortar fire overhead? Have you stepped on any mines this week that have left you maimed and broken? Have you been ambushed? You didn’t see it coming, but now you feel its effects. You need to know that God has provided for you this very morning. You have not been left defenseless my friend. You are more than a conqueror, but only in Christ Jesus.

The war is not going to end. As a matter of fact, Peter wrote to the people of his day the same words he would say to you and me if he were with us today. Listen closely.

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)

Jesus said to His disciples that “the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” He has successfully done that throughout the generations, but you and I don’t have to be a casualty. If you have already found yourself in the infirmary because of the pain the enemy has inflicted upon your heart or home, then you need to know that the Savior can heal you and raise you with His strength to face the battles that are still to come.

One lady who knows what I am talking about is Maria Leos. Maria found herself in a place she never dreamed she would ever be, but in her desperation she cried out to Jesus and He saved her. I will let Maria tell her own story.

My name is Maria Elena Leos, I’m 52 years of of age. I was born in Upland, California, San Bernardino County. Until the age of 28 I never knew anything about the life of a heroin addict, I never thought that one day I would end up in and out of prison, homeless, and down all the way to a life of prostitution. I started using at the age of 28 with my first husband who had just been released from San Quentin, a California State Prison. We both started doing armed robberies, and I was picked up in 1980, and I became a criminal. While incarcerated I received news that my husband had been killed while being involved in a robbery. I felt that my life was over; I had nothing to live for. While all this was going on, I left the responsibility of my three children to my parents, I was in no condition to be a mother. In 1988, I met another man, just another drug addict; we were later married. In 1991 I was lost again to the world of drugs; my husband and I were homeless, sleeping under trees, searching every day for nothing. Then for some reason or another we felt tired, and I knew that way down deep in my heart I was crying out to the Almighty God, Lord Jesus help us. God sent a man to us, a correctional officer, and he took us in, and said, “you are going to change.” We went to a place in Ontario, CA, Soldiers for Christ, a Men and Women’s Rehabilitation center. My husband Pete and I went into their programs and we both graduated, but first we gave our lives to our Lord Jesus Christ, and today my husband and I have been serving God for seven years. I also serve in our church where I am a member of the prison team and I sing in the choir. My husband Pete works as a mechanic and I am employed at Sports Chalet as a security guard. I love my children and I thank God for my parents, my church, and my pastors, Frank & Angie Castrejon. If God did it for me He can do it for you.
Love Always. Maria Elena Leos

Praise God for His provision for Maria. Will you cry out to the Lord this morning and allow Him to rescue you from the enemies clutches, heal your broken life, and clothe you with His mighty power? Jesus said,

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

He has overcome the world! Through Jesus, you too can become an overcomer my friend. Won’t you invite Him into your heart this morning?

Mike Hays
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
Oklahoma City, OK. 73114
February 17, 2013
mike@brittonchurch.com

The War Continues!
Ephesians 6:10-18